Posts belonging to Category What the heck?

An Inventive Lot, These Spammers

I got a spam email this morning with the subject line of “STOP SPAMMING ME!!!!”  Inside it said that my Facebook account had been hacked and that they had attached a screen shot.  Yeah… like I’m going to open a file from someone I don’t know, sent to an email address that has nothing to do with my Facebook account.

I have to give them credit for ingenuity, though.  Taking advantage of the fear of having your account hacked combined with the universal loathing of spam to try to hack your PC (most likely to turn it into a spam bot) is a master stroke.

Life for Texas Dad in Fatal Rape of Baby

Sometimes I despair for the human race.  Truly there are some people so evil they ought not be allowed to live.

Life for Texas Dad in Fatal Rape of Baby

The Corporate Ax Falleth Upon My Neck

I got word yesterday morning that I am being laid off (1) at the end of March unless I can find another position in the company.  Of course this is a bit like the corporate version of musical chairs, except that instead of taking away one chair they’re removing hundreds.  After perusing the internal job postings, I didn’t see anything that fit my needs(2), so I expect that March 28th will mark the end of 19 years with the company.

I’ve halfway been expecting this for nearly a year.  They weren’t giving us any significant new work due to constant budget cuts, and my primary mission is to turn requirements into designs and guide them through the development process.  Hence I was pretty underutilized, and ended up working on some on-going support tasks and some Java development.  I am guilty of just not taking it seriously enough, I suppose.

Anyhow, I am trying to look at this as more of an opportunity than an obstacle.  They’re giving me six months of pay as well as medical and life insurance, so I have a bit of cushion.  I’ve got my resume out to a couple of people now for review and will get it out on the major sites to get the ball rolling on something regular.  The upside is that I am seeing a lot of openings.  It just appears to be a matter of getting my qualifications across in the best light for each one.  And if nothing is forthcoming I’m considering going freelance, perhaps even starting my own company.  There seems to be a lot of work available if you can build up your reputation.

Updated to add: They are also offering up to $2500 in reimbursement for training.  I’m contemplating whether to get a Project Management certification.  My work has always been intricately linked with the project management role, and I’ve even filled in as a PM on a fairly large project when the PM was injured and was away for several months.  But I’m open to suggestions on other skills that might be useful to acquire.  I’ve got more than 10 years doing J2EE apps, so I have lots of experience in Java, servlets, JDBC, database design and implementation (DB2 and MySQL), JSPs, etc.  Also web services using SOAP.  I’ve got some personal experience writing in PHP and Perl for the web, and I know my way around Linux (actually, Unix in general) pretty well.  But I’ve never done .NET, C#, or any of the Microsoft stuff.

(1) Isn’t it interesting all the euphemisms and rhetorical contortions that are required in corporate speak to avoid saying the “l” word?

(2) I find myself in the unenviable position of owning a home in a down market, which severely limits my mobility.  I suppose I could try to rent it out if I had to move somewhere else, but the logistics of that are messy.  Additionally, the D/FW area has one of the better job markets in the country, so I am hopeful for a good outcome.

An Odd New Limitation

When I logged into my online bill payment account today I saw a strange new warning:

Screen grab from Chase online bill payment service

(For those who can’t read the tiny print, it says, “The Online Bill Payment service should NOT be used to pay your local, state or federal taxes.”)

It doesn’t immediately make sense to me why this would be the case, since I’ve used this service to send to everything from major corporations to individuals.  They’ve got it set up so that it recognizes payees who can receive payment directly versus those who can’t.  If a payee can’t accept payment directly, the service will print and mail a check on your behalf.

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps some tax entities require additional documentation beyond an account reference number, in which case there might be a problem, since there’s no way for Chase to include anything beyond a memo on the check.  You’d expect people to know better, but I suppose that’s being naive.  In which case it would make sense to include the warning lest Chase get sued when someone’s tax payment goes off into never-never-land.

Happy New Year… Have A Blast!

For once, an SMS text from a cellular provider proved useful:

A “Black Widow” suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year’s Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources.

The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt near Red Square on New Year’s Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.

Security sources believe a message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her at a safe house.

I can visualize the text: HNY. HV A BLST.  LOL 😉

Even The Spammers Are Critics

One thing I’m enjoying about using WordPress is the Akismet spam filter.  So far it’s protected me from over 90 spam posts (in just about one month) with a 100% success rate (i.e. no false positives).  Interestingly, all of the spam that it’s caught appears to be entered by humans (or at least a fairly reasonable facsimile thereof).  They all use some fairly stock phrases that attempt to flatter you as to your content but that are completely unrelated to the topic of the post.  It comes across as really stilted and silly.

Anyhow, the spam sweatshops were especially busy last night, since there were 14 new spam comments in the filter awaiting my attention (I last emptied it around 5:00pm yesterday).  This one, in particular, though, caught my eye.  Not only do they have the audacity to try to shove this crap into my comments, but it’s kind of insulting to boot!

Dont acquire this the wrong way, but youre entirely boring me right here. Do not get me wrong, I imagine what you need to say is valid…completely! But, youve received to provide me a thing to believe about that involves pictures. You realize what they say, -A picture is worth a thousand phrases.- You could potentially cut down on the terms if you just gave me a few photographs.

If I’m so boring, then maybe you need to find another site to spam.  In the meantime, your comment is being routed to File 13 for proper consideration.

The Stupid Bowl is Coming!

All you slovenly North Texans need to get your crap together and make sure you polish everything to a bright, shiny finish before the Stupid Bowl comes to town next month.  Also, you need to be on your best behavior.

Or at least that’s the message I’m getting from the various cities involved in this massive boondoggle.  While the level of rhetoric is steadily being ratcheted up to 11 (you can’t watch Fox 4 anymore without a “live” reporter breathlessly intoning on the latest 18-wheeler to arrive or the current status of tent construction), I was somewhat content to just ignore it all (even the creepy Slant 45 initiative), at least until Troy Aikman dropped the final straw on my back at the end of tonight’s 6:30pm news.

I mean it’s bad enough that the City of Arlington has a webpage dedicated to ratting out your messy neighbors (lest we offend any of the delicate sensibilities of the hoity-toity Stupid Bowl visitors as they visit Arlington’s Grand-Theft-Stadium), but now we’ve got Troy Aikman on TV telling us we all need to act appropriately when visitors come to town.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a copy of this sanctimonious bullshit online, or I’d link it here, but it pissed me right the hell off to be lectured on hospitality and how to act by a guy whose claim to fame is that he could play a game that is more known for the misbehavior of its players than anything else.

Aikman, you can shove your commercial and your Stupid Bowl XLV nonsense up your ass (perhaps the commercial will make nice viewing for you until you get your head out of there).

Improving The Tone?

So… some psycho nutbag shoots a Congresswoman in Tucson and the shell casings haven’t even hit the ground by the time the usual liberal suspects come out of the woodwork to inform us that it was caused by all that nasty right-wing hate-laden eliminationist rhetoric and that we need to “tone it down.”  Way to wait for the facts, there, Sparky!

If you really want to improve the tone of politics, perhaps the first thing you can do is avoid dancing in the blood of the injured and killed to score a political point.

I wonder if I should bother even hoping for an apology from all who blamed the Tucson attack on ‘right wingers,’ ‘tea partiers,’ and Sarah Palin?

I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

Quickie: Implosion of the Republic

I have come to suspect that the death of our republic will not be accompanied by a thunderous KABOOM but instead by a plaintive whine of it’s for the children (or perhaps its hoary cousin if it saves just one life).

All Of The PR Finesse of Stalin

In a move that could not be more tone deaf than if Stalin himself had made it, Greek support company Systemgraph has sued one of its customers after he had the chutzpa to complain about their service.  Systemgraph is an authorized Apple reseller and service provider in Greece.

From the linked article:

He claims Systemgraph refused because the iMac wasn’t bought there. Papadimitriadis insisted he had followed the procedures set out at And he says he took his case to the consumer ombudsman, although that is a lengthy process. Clearly, there wasn’t going to be accord here. But it was what transpired next that has captured Greece’s imagination.

Papadimitriadis posted his story on a forum, something that seems to have upset Systemgraph. For the company has sued him for 200,000 euros (about $267,000), claiming he damaged its reputation.

His post, as translated by Google, does not seem to offer harsh or emotive language. The most anyone who has reported on the case claims is that Papadimitriadis described Systemgraph as “dodgy.”

Of course this is all through the lens of automated Greek-to-English translation, so perhaps something has been lost.  But if the facts are even remotely the same as my understanding, this is a case where discretion is the better part of valor and where it’s best to just let things be.  Systemgraph’s attempt to silence this customer for his supposed ‘slander and insult’ has simply brought the case into the glare of a world-wide spotlight.  Nothing good can come of this for Systemgraph, even if they unilaterally drop the lawsuit now.